Shoigu asks the impossible
Material posted: Publication date: 28-02-2013

An enlarged session of the Collegium of the Ministry of defence on Wednesday with the participation of Vladimir Putin, once again recorded a new approach to military construction, while maintaining the same course of military reform. The main line was designated by the President.

Based on the fact that "the dynamics of the geopolitical situation requires precise and quick action," Putin has set the task in the next 3-5 years "to create a modern, mobile and well equipped armed forces that are ready to promptly and adequately respond to any potential threat."

Another important point emphasized by the defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, in a categorical form given to understand that the outsourcing system, compromised by the scandals around "Oboronservis" will be stored, and the Ministry of defence to pursue its business directly with the questions of defense and military construction.

This mobilization approach to military reform is the main outcome of the meeting of the Board, the most interesting part of which was held behind closed doors. Unfortunately, this main was not heard by many commentators. Apparently, this is because after the resignation of Serdyukov any conversation about military reform, but immediately rolled to discuss his "stupid decisions", theft in the "Oboronservis" and a sacramental question – put Serdyukov or not.

All this, of course, interesting, but strategically important today, are quite different questions: whether the team Shoygu to restore the combat capability of the Armed forces and how realistic will be the State program of armaments (GPV-2020)? The answers are practically not linked to the fate of Serdyukov, because even his immediate landing will not eradicate the confusion prevailing in the field of armaments and technical service in the army will not resolve the objective contradictions between the army as the customer of the armaments and the military-industrial complex as their supplier, will not increase the professionalism of the personnel and make more realistic the ambitious program of rearmament of the army.

Everything else, concerning material security of personnel and the army from military camps and hospitals, military uniforms and salaries to apartments for officers and shower in each barracks must be assumed as self-evident. In the sense that these things are necessary, but to ensure the combat effectiveness of the army they are not enough. Just because they are hungry and ill-equipped army is, of course, is no good, but by themselves, satiety and equipment will not make it more efficient.

Shoigu, apparently, understands this. His first decision as Minister of defence touched on the most annoying army solutions: straps, form, cancellation of decisions on closing military hospitals and the elimination of military camps. But three weeks after his appointment, sober assessment of the scale of the mess, the new head of the defense Ministry began to raise fundamental questions related to system training army to a qualitative leap, without which all talk of military reform will be next to nothing, and the money invested in it is wasted.

The main problems, actually, three: ensuring the combat readiness of personnel, technical provision of the army, including quick and quality repairs of machinery, weapons, communication systems and other equipment, and weaponry and new technology.

Under the first task the steps already taken by the numerical increase of officers, including a recovery in the army unjustifiably sent off officers. Resumed frozen when Serdyukov set in a military Academy, raised the question of the abolition of the Bologna system in military education. At the same time on the Board of the defense Ministry, held on 27 November 2012, a question was raised about restoration of the Main Directorate of combat training of troops and other fundamental aspects of ensuring the combat readiness of its Armed forces.

To solve the second problem Shoigu proposed to begin to transfer responsibility for capital repair of equipment and power units from the Ministry of defence manufacturers, which should increase their responsibility for the quality of our products. In terms of solving the problem of rearmament Shoigu had said from the beginning that under the current system the military Department may implement the program of state purchases only in money, but not in quantitative terms.

Translated into ordinary language this means that today the military is forced to report on costs, while its goal is the formation of the order for the quantity and quality of weapons. To remove this contradiction by the decision of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's military-industrial Commission under the government received additional powers in regulating the formation of the state defense order. How effective will this approach, it is not yet clear. The head of the military-industrial Commission Dmitry Rogozin full of enthusiasm, but his powers may not be enough for razrulivaniye of a conflict between the MOD and the military-industrial complex, and the extra headache in the form of responsibility for the failure of the contracts already secured to him.

Sergei Shoigu is no accident that insists on the release of his Department's functions, not directly related to military construction. Test equipment and military maneuvers, povedenie last week, confirmed the validity of such statement of a question, demonstrating the scale of the problems. According to the General staff, repaired equipment fails in a month, 34% are in emergency condition, in helicopters and self-propelled artillery installations faults leading units, on military vehicles was not working the radio, almost all officers on duty had no skills for the transmission of alarm signals using automated systems.

The head of the General staff Valery Gerasimov ordered on the ground of detailed analysis of the identified inefficiencies, eliminate them and take measures to prevent them in the future. And for those who do not understand that joke, added that the sudden check of combat readiness will be held regularly, with all the attendant consequences for careless performers. Today, when the army gets decent funding, its personnel can be demanding.

In fact, the line pursued by the Minister of defence and the chief of staff is that the army should continue to serve. Everything else is a matter of other departments. At the last Board Shoigu again confirmed that the Ministry of defence should not become a trading site, and it's not just getting rid of non-core assets. According to him, the army should form a military order and not to count the money.

From the point of view of military construction here will not mind. Another question – where is the guarantee that huge funds allocated in GPV-2020, will be spent on the case. Also it is not clear what will consolidate these funds. Critics of the programme of rearmament has already formed a list of her shortcomings, and much of it gives grounds for serious thought.

It primarily is unduly optimistic about prices procured for defense procurement products and the timing of the launch into serial production of new weapons. The current state of the military-industrial complex with their orientation to profit and far from perfect equipment gives rise to serious doubts in ability to meet challenges. To reverse this situation, the need for serious mobilization momentum.

The second relates to the burden on the economy of the country. The increase in procurement and other defense expenditures in GPV-2020, surpasses the most optimistic forecasts of economic growth in Russia. In that case, how will this huge money? Perhaps the leadership of the country knows the answer to this question, or the fact that, given the situation in the world, the army agreed to provide at any cost.

Other claims of critics GPV-2020 relating to skew expenditures towards the purchase equipment at the expense of expenses on the personnel, unnecessarily large expenditures on the rearmament of the Navy or doubts about the need to develop new liquid-propellant Intercontinental ballistic missile, look less convincing. First of all, because at this stage of the reform the majority of the funding is already directed to the solution of problems of the personnel, and plans relating to the fleet (including the infamous "Mistral") and nuclear components, are political and geopolitical in nature.

In General, it is impossible not to admit that trying to make the reform of the army mobilization momentum, the country's leadership makes it clear that a country that doesn't want to feed his army, will feed someone elses. In this sense, the Minister Shoigu behaves like a true realist: understanding the scale of the problems, he asks the impossible, and then the curve will take out.

Natalia SEROVA


Tags: assessment , Russia , strategy , armed forces